Week 6, Day 1
I Samuel 3.1-21 (The full text is below)
We are looking at a tiny snapshot of Samuel’s life this week—which, of course, is entirely inadequate to gain an understanding of this interesting Bible character and his even more interesting times. So my advice is that you read the first 7 chapters of 1st Samuel. These will take you through his early years and into the beginning of his adult service as prophet and judge for Israel.
This advice comes with a warning, however. Be prepared to be baffled and mystified by what you read.
Three thousand years is a long time. Imagine someone from the year 5017—three thousand years into our future, time travels back for a visit in Mt Vernon. What questions might she ask about our way of life, our laws and culture and especially our religion. How baffled would she be by our quaint technologies and our superstitions.
Three thousand years is how far we are removed from Samuel’s day. Don’t expect him to have the same perspective you do on God and culture, on right and wrong. God may not change over time and right and wrong may not change (though there are considerable differences of opinion whether either of those statements are correct), but our perceptions of and opinions about God, right and wrong have certainly been altered by the passing millennia.
So go easy on Samuel. He was probably doing the best he could.
This story begins with Samuel as a small boy. When he was about 3 years old (the common weaning age) his mother “gave” him to the service of the Lord (Ch. 1). He became an apprentice to Eli, the priest, at the temple in Shiloh.
Samuel didn’t know much. He was just a boy, remember. “Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.” (vs. 7) But his ignorance and youth are of little consequence in this story. Because what he does possess, remarkable in someone so young, is an ability to hear and a willingness to listen when God does speak.
“The Lord called, ‘Samuel!”…
And Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening.’” (vs. 4, 10)
How does one learn to hear God’s voice?
And what makes us willing to listen?
Prayer: God grant to us a willing heart and working ears. Teach us to listen closely when you speak and to respond boldly when you call. Amen.
I Samuel 3.1-21
1 Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread.
2 At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; 3 the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. 4 Then the Lord called, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ and he said, ‘Here I am!’ 5 and ran to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ But he said, ‘I did not call; lie down again.’ So he went and lay down. 6 The Lord called again, ‘Samuel!’ Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ But he said, ‘I did not call, my son; lie down again.’ 7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.
8 The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. 9 Therefore Eli said to Samuel, ‘Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” ’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
10 Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ And Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening.’ 11 Then the Lord said to Samuel, ‘See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make both ears of anyone who hears of it tingle. 12 On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13 For I have told him that I am about to punish his house for ever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. 14 Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be expiated by sacrifice or offering for ever.’
15 Samuel lay there until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the Lord. Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. 16 But Eli called Samuel and said, ‘Samuel, my son.’ He said, ‘Here I am.’ 17 Eli said, ‘What was it that he told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also, if you hide anything from me of all that he told you.’ 18 So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. Then he said, ‘It is the Lord; let him do what seems good to him.’
19 As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was a trustworthy prophet of the Lord. 21 The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord.